How I Got A Full-Time Job Offer — And Skipped The Recruitment Process

Liam Berry
How I Got A Full-Time Job Offer — And Skipped The Recruitment Process
Sponsored by, L'Oréal
l'oreal brandstorm case competition jordan culpepper
Jordan (right) and his winning Brandstorm team.

Jordan is a recent graduate of Howard University. He’s also a full-time employee at L’Oréal, having been hired for their highly-selective Marketing Associate Program: an exclusive group of recent graduates who participate in a training-intensive, high-impact rotational program that establishes them as industry experts and puts them on the fast-track for marketing success.

The unique thing about Jordan’s career journey, though, is that he didn’t need to be part of the internship recruitment process.

Here’s how Jordan landed an amazing post-grad job offer with one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies.

The Brandstorm Competition

Jordan’s team led with a product line called Noir.

Jordan’s story starts with a business case competition…sort of.

“In 2016, I was an ELC (Executive Leadership Council) Scholar. It’s an organization that educates mid-level managers of color and helps create a network of mid-level and c-suite executives within Fortune 500 companies,” Jordan explains. “Every year they give a scholarship to students who attend HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities). I went to Howard University,” Jordan says.

“They also have companies who give scholarships—and I won a scholarship through the Coca-Cola Foundation. A part of that scholarship is a scholars orientation where they bring you to New York for a week to tour some of the top ten companies of the entire ELC program. L’Oréal was one of them,” he says.

When he toured L’Oréal, Jordan was really impressed with their office and the different types of products they worked on. But there was something he didn’t see on his tour that he really wanted to know more about.

“I remember asking, ‘What is L’Oréal doing for men and men’s grooming?’ And then someone on the L’Oréal team told me, ‘I’m glad you asked that. We actually have Brandstorm coming up. Brandstorm is a case competition and this year’s theme is Disrupting Men’s Grooming.’ And so I was like, ‘Maybe we can take advantage of this!’”

After that, Jordan and some of his friends from Howard came up with a product, a business plan, and a pitch presentation. Their product, Noir, was a set of black soap and cocoa butter products tailored to the multicultural community, specifically at college-aged men. (Part of their proposal was to do a soft launch at HBCUs to get feedback from a diverse group.)

“We submitted our idea and we were chosen to compete in the USA Finals here in New York. And we were competing against seven other teams for a chance to compete in the International Finals, and we ended up winning the USA Finals. We went to France in the summer of 2017 to pitch our idea against 45 teams from around the world to the executives of L’Oréal,” he says.

Even though Jordan and his team received great feedback in Paris, they didn’t end up winning the top spot.

“We didn’t win top 3, but we didn’t have hard feelings! We loved the teams we competed against, and it was a great, healthy competition,” Jordan adds. “It was also a week in Paris in the middle of summer. What’s better than that?” (As anyone who has ever been to Paris knows, the answer is: absolutely nothing.)

But his results were still strong enough—and his presentation good enough—to merit a different kind of prize.

How Jordan Got The Job Offer

l'oreal brandstorm case competition usa finals 2017
Jordan presenting his team’s winning product at Brandstorm’s USA finals.

“Just being in Paris at the competition put the teams on the radar for employment at L’Oréal, no matter where you were coming from,” Jordan explains. “We learned a lot about how the company worked. We talked about the innovation, some of the artificial intelligence L’Oréal was trying to incorporate into their products. From there we learned about the Marketing Associate Program.”

After a few conversational interviews about Jordan’s interests and career aspirations, L’Oréal extended Jordan an offer to join the program after he graduated the following spring—an offer he enthusiastically accepted. With the Brandstorm competition behind him and plenty of new ideas for the company buzzing in his head after seeing a world’s worth of innovative pitches, Jordan had plenty to talk about.

“It really did help that I was in the competition. When I had my two rounds of interviews, I was really able to speak to that,” Jordan says.

From Competitor To Future Leader

Jordan and his biggest fan (a.k.a his dad) in Paris.

Even though Jordan was a perfect fit for L’Oréal (and vice versa), it wasn’t something he ever really imagined for himself.

“I can’t say this is where I ever imagined myself, but when you break it down in terms of business—I have a business degree from Howard—this is an international company that operates in more than 150 countries,” Jordan says. “There are engineering and STEM jobs at L’Oréal, too. That’s something that’s really important. Everyone has a place here, and that’s something that not everyone realizes. A lot of people just think makeup and hair [when they think of L’Oréal], but there really is a lot more going on.”

As Jordan tells it, the intersection of tapping into a multicultural market, international business, and entrepreneurship aligned perfectly with his interests.

“What they’re preparing us for is to be leaders within the organization, and that’s something I can definitely see,” Jordan says.

Jordan’s story isn’t an uncommon one for L’Oréal. Every year, they host their Brandstorm competition to hear from the newest generation of rising college talent and to let entrepreneurs show them what’s next.

By the way, this year’s Brandstorm competition is looking for new competitors right now through January 2019. So, gather your team, start brainstorming, and prepare to give the pitch of a lifetime. It might just land you your dream job.

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